This week is the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington, an annual community celebration and the largest festival of its kind in the state.

Founded in 1948, the Azalea Festival is one of Wilmington’s premier events. More than 200,000 are estimated to attend the annual two-day Street Fair, while more than 100,000 gather to watch the Festival Parade. Each event is a celebration, beginning with the traditional arrival of Queen Azalea at the official opening of the five-day event. Southern belles and their escorts promenade through lush gardens at the annual garden party. Everywhere the blooming azaleas highlight the rich horticultural heritage of coastal Carolina. Past Queen Azalea celebrities include: Kathryn Grayson, Esther Williams, Phylicia Rashad and Kelly Ripa.

Wilmington Azalea Festival | Oak Island Beach